Today, I’m participating in The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon, the very first blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. How exciting is that?! 😀 We all know that the Barrymores was a notorious family of actors, with personalities such as Ethel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, John Drew Barrymore, Diana Barrymore, John Blyth Barrymore and, of course, Drew Barrymore. I can’t say I know the Barrymores very well because I haven’t seen many of their films, but from what I’ve seen, I agree that they were great actors. However, I still have to see some John Barrymore films… Twentieth Century is definitely on my list. Well, for this blogathon, I’ve decided to talk about a Drew Barrymore film: Ever After (Andy Tennant, 1998). I remember, first time I saw this film I wasn’t too much enthusiast about it, but I saw it a second time, a long time after, and appreciated it. It’s very simple, it’s an improved version of Cinderella.
The story takes place in France during the 16th century. Danielle de Barbarac (Drew Barrymore) is a young girl who has never known her mother as this one died when Danielle was very young. She lives with her father (Jeroen Krabbé) that she loves very much. This one is about to get married to the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (Anjelica Huston) who has two daughters: the blond Marguerite (Megan Dodds) and the brunette Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey). Danielle is very excited about having a new mother and new sisters. One day, her father has to go to another town for business. When he’s just leaving the house on his horse, he has a heart attack and dies. Poor Danielle is now an orphan and the Baroness is now a widow. The years go by and Danielle has now become a beautiful young woman. Unfortunately, we soon discover that she is poorly treated by her stepmother, the Baroness, and her step-sister Marguerite who made her a maid. They call her Cinderella. So, day and night, she has to obey those two jealous women’s orders and do everything for them. Danielle desperately wants to be loved by her stepmother and tries to do everything to please her but in vain. Fortunately, others servants of the house are on her side and Jacqueline is also compassionate, unlike her sister Marguerite.
One day, Danielle accidentally attacks Prince Henry (Dougray Scott), son of King Francis (Timothy West) and Queen Mary (Judy Parfitt), who has escaped from the castle because his parents want him to marry a girl he doesn’t know and doesn’t love. Not a long time after, Danielle has to go in town to save Maurice ( Walter Sparrow), an old servant from her house who is about to be deported to America. She then disguises herself as a noble lady and goes to the royal court. She convinces the prince to give freedom to Maurice. The prince doesn’t recognize her and wonder who she is. She lies and tells him that she is the countess Nicole de Lancret (that really was her mother). The prince and Danielle will spend time together and eventually fell in love with each other, but that’s not without problem as Danielle really is a maid, not a countess, and the baroness desperately wants to marry Marguerite to the prince… Fortunately, Danielle’s friends, including Leonard de Vinci ( Patrick Godfrey) (yes yes!) will always be there to help her.
So, I said that this was an improved version of Cinderella. Why? Because it’s more realistic. Of course, it remains a movie, but there is no magic in this film and Danielle and the prince don’t fall in love with each other only after the first time they meet. Remember, in Disney’s Cinderella, she goes to the ball, dances with the prince. She falls in love with him. Ok, love at first sight is possible, but then they marry each other not a long time after. That’s less realistic. But don’t get me wrong, despite that, I love Disney’s Cinderella! There’s nothing wrong with fantasy! 😉 I wouldn’t say that Ever After is a great film, but it’s a good one. However, like every Cinderella‘s adaptations, it remains a bit cheesy, but not as much as A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff for example.
This is also a worth watching film if you like Drew Barrymore. I haven’t seen many of her films, but this one really made me like her. She really is a dear as Danielle de Barbarac. She plays with a real softness and a great sensibility. She is, of course, very beautiful and very lovable. We certainly don’t want bad things to happen to her. Anjelica Huston is perfect as the stepmother. She has the great physic for this role and knows perfectly how to play a character we love to hate! In my opinion, the other great actor in this film is Patrick Godfrey as Leonard de Vinci. Leonard is one of my favourite characters in the film. Of course, the way he is presented in the films is not historically perfect, but he remains an appreciated character. He is really funny and is part of some of the best scenes of the film.
But let’s get back to Drew as this blogathon is dedicated to her family. When this film was released, Drew Barrymore was still a young actress. She only was 23 years old. We know that she, unfortunately, didn’t have a very happy childhood. She discovered drugs and alcohol at a very young age and tried to kill herself when she was 17. She describes this dark part of her life in her autobiography The Little Lost Girl. Of course, we are happy that sweet Drew is still with us today. She started her career in 1982 in Spielberg’s E.T as Gertie, Eliot’s little sister. She was only 7 at the time and was already able to prove that she was a good actress. Except for E.T, in the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, she starred in a series of not too well-remembered films. She made her come back in the middle of the 90s with movies like Scream, Batman Forever, and Ever After. Drew Barrymore is also well known for having starred in Charlie’s Angels (2000). This contemporary actress never received an Oscar, but she received many awards, including some for her brilliant performance in Ever After: The Kid’s Choice Award, The Saturn Award, and The Blockbuster Entertainment Award. Those were certainly well-deserved.
Drew Barrymore had the chance to wear some very beautiful costumes when she starred in Ever After. Of course, the most beautiful dress is the one she wears during the famous ball scene. A dress that belonged to her mother the real Nicole de Lancret. She, of course, also wears the famous glass slippers in this scene. However, she will have to run away from the castle, but not for the same reasons as The Grimm brothers’ Cinderella. No magic pumpkin or good fairy in this film!
Well, I was happy to participate in this blogathon. If you want to see a good Cinderella‘s adaptation, I highly recommend you to watch Ever After. I’m sure you will also appreciate Drew Barrymore’s beautiful presence. With a family like hers, she has inherited some fine acting genes.
Don’t forget to read the other entries for the blogathon: